Christmas is For Giving

By Darlene Shuya

Peggy’s mother was having a very sad day. Peggy wanted to cheer up her mother.

It was two days before Christmas; Peggy, aged six, was shopping with her Aunt May for a Christmas present for Peggy’s mother. All the other children Peggy’s age were waiting anxiously to see what they would get for Christmas, but Peggy wanted to see what she could give.

She clutched the coins and paper money tightly in her right hand and held her Aunt’s hand with her left. Her eyes searched the store windows looking for an ideal present. Her allowance had been saved up for months for something special for Mama. Mama needs something special — soft, cuddly, and warm.

As Peggy and Aunt May wandered from one store window to another, nothing seemed to catch her eye. A Christmas gift for Mama would make her happy. Mama had been sad ever since “her mama,” Peggy’s Grandma, had gone to heaven. Peggy thought, “Perhaps I can help Mama feel happy again.”

As Peggy walked along, her eye caught something in the store window just ahead. It had pets in the window and a big sign above that said PETLAND. Maybe Mama would like a soft, furry kitten. She could hold and cuddle it. That would make her happy! That fluffy white kitten in the window would be perfect!

Upon entering the store, Peggy and Aunt May saw many animals — puppies, gerbils, mice, fish, and reptiles. She stood and watched as other children were playing with the animals. A sign said YOU MAY HOLD THE PETS.

Her eyes were drawn to the kitten area. She asked her Aunt May, “Do you think I could hold the kitten?”

Aunt May answered, ”I think you should ask the clerk.”

The clerk said, “Sure!” as she handed the kitten to Peggy. It was fluffy and soft and warm. Then the clerk said, “Someone else is waiting to hold the kitten,” so Peggy handed the kitten back to the clerk. It seemed like the perfect gift for Mama. She counted her coins and paper money– it was just enough!

Then she spied the gerbils. They were fascinating — always busy, running on their exercise wheels. Some were sleeping under their little log houses. Peggy thought she would like to hold one, and again the clerk said, “Sure!” The gerbil was squirmy, crawling all over her neck, head, and shoulder. It tickled her and made Peggy giggle. She caught the furry little creature and put it back in the enclosure.

Next, she wandered to the back of the store where all the fish tanks were. The aquariums held brightly coloured fish–red, blue, green, gold and black and white,  and Peggy watched them swim gracefully to and fro across the aquarium. Surely Mama would enjoy just watching a relaxing Beta fish or a shiny Goldfish in a bowl.

Now Peggy had to decide. What would it be? A kitten, a gerbil, or a fish? It didn’t take her long to make her choice. It would be a soft, fluffy white kitten. As she went to the front counter to pay, she noticed another little girl and her mother just paying for the soft fluffy kitten.

Peggy’s heart dropped. She was sure it would comfort her mother, and Peggy would have enjoyed the kitten, too. Now, what would she do?

Peggy and Aunt May slowly made their way out of the store and sadly walked toward home. What could she give Mama now? Aunt May said, “Maybe there’ll be something else you can give Mama. Think about it.” She thought about a different present that she could offer and share with Mama, maybe something homemade. Suddenly it came to her. She liked to draw and paint; she would paint a beautiful picture for Mama, of all the pets that were in the store.

Her step quickened as she and Aunt May neared home. She went straight to her room, took out a pencil, paper, crayons, and paint. She began to draw all the animals that she saw at the pet store and painted them carefully. The fluffy white kitten, the brown gerbil, running on his exercise wheel, and the beautiful colourful fish swimming gently in their tanks were all drawn perfectly. She drew them with such love that they looked almost real. When finished, she mounted her picture on a black sheet of paper like her teacher did with the pictures at school. It made her picture look almost real.

Then she made a card, and in it, she wrote:

      • If I could give you a kitten, I would
        If I could give you a gerbil, I would
        If I could give you a fish, I would
        But I hope you’ll be happy with a picture
        That my heart drew, with all my love
        To make you happy again.
        Love from Peggy

On Christmas morning Mama excitedly opened the gift from Peggy. She looked at the picture and read the card. With tears in her eyes, she gave Peggy a big hug and said, “Yes, my dear, Christmas is about loving and giving. I am so proud of you. You have learned such a valuable lesson at such a young age. Let us never forget it.”

Peggy said, “I made it with my hands, but my heart guided me. I wanted you to be happy again.”

“And now I have a gift for you, ” said Mama as she handed a box to Peggy. Excitedly Peggy tore at the colourful red wrapping paper. The box seemed to wiggle, and Peggy stopped suddenly, “What’s in here, Mama?”

“Open it up!”

Peggy lifted the flaps of the box. There was a fluffy white kitten with big blue eyes staring at her.

“Oh, thank you, Mama! But where did you get it? The last white kitten in the Pet Shop was sold.”

Mama paused. “I think a mysterious Santa brought it!  Merry Christmas! I love you, my dear.”

Peggy picked up the soft fluffy white kitten and held it close to her. She was so happy, and Mama was happy, too.

I am a retired teacher living in Red Deer, and I am a member of INKBLOTS, a writing group of CARTA. I enjoy writing children’s stories and historical stories.

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